Do Fast Food Restaurants Have To Give Free Water?

Accessible and free drinking will enhance your dining experience. But do fast food restaurants have to give free water? There has been no law asking fast-food restaurants to provide free water to their customers. However, when you order meals, most restaurants will provide you with tap water as a service. When you purchase at a fast food store, you can also receive a cup or a glass of water. Asking for a refill is also possible. Today, Filmore & Union will discuss this issue in detail. Let’s follow our lead!

Why Do Fast Food Restaurants Give Free Water?

Many fast-food restaurants opt for offering their customers free water. The most popular form of this free offer is tap water. This trend has some reasons, including better customer service, environmental protection, and health care.

Customer service

In some countries, it's a norm for the waiter to serve their patrons a cup or a glass of water as they sit. It's similar to how you might get free bread. This small gesture encourages interchange, which is beneficial to the restaurant.

With such gestures, customers tend to be generous, which significantly influences their dining experience.


Another critical concern is that bottled water has become a significant environmental disaster, rising consumption year after year.

Bottled water production and transportation are troublesome. However, the main issue is the massive amount of plastic bottles.

A fast-food business may save hundreds of plastic bottles each day by providing free tap water, which helps to protect the environment.

Health care

We all tend to use something more if it's free. The policy of giving free water at fast-food restaurants encourages the customers to drink more water. 

There should be something healthy to balance the nutrient content with the excessive amount of fat in fried chicken and hamburgers. And here comes the water.

Many fast-food restaurants offer free water

Why Don't Some Fast Food Restaurants Offer Free Water?

Some fast-food restaurants have stopped giving free tap water to their customers. The biggest reason for the change is the cost and waste. 

Many guests ask for a cup of water, then take one drink and abandon the rest. You may expect eateries to supply hundreds of cups of tap water each day to guests who may or may not drink it. Meanwhile, the cost of water is still rising. 

If an average glass of water is 250 meters, we can have four glasses from one liter. If the restaurant serves one thousand guests a day, it will use up to 250 liters of water merely to provide free tap water.

With this massive amount of water used, there should be a restriction to control it.

Pros And Cons Of Tap Water

The water we get from fast-food restaurants is mostly tapping water. It would be better to have some information about this water source. 


The tap water originates from three primary sources: lakes, rivers, and groundwater. The quality and safety of the tap water depend on the source. 

Although some of the sources may contain pollutants, most tap water is filtered. It's a cost-effective way to remain hydrated.


Some tap water might not have the same flavor as the bottled water. However, the taste doesn't imply that the tap water is of bad quality. It might be due to chlorination or an increase in mineral composition.

Using a filter to enhance the taste of tap water is one approach. Another alternative is to top each glass with ice and lemon.

Environmental issue

Using tap water has a far less environmental effect than buying bottled water. The package of the bottled product plays a role in this situation. With tap water, there are no packs wasted. Hence, there would be less garbage in the landfill.

Tap water gives the restaurants and drinkers some benefits

Compared to bottled water, tap water offers even more benefits. You can watch this video for detailed comparison.

List Of Some Fast Food Restaurants That Offer Free Water

You may also get free water at certain major food brands. Most fast-food restaurants will give you a cup of water if you buy something, but just a few will do so if you aren't even purchasing.

Here are some chains that offer free water for both customers with the purchase and without purchase:

  • McDonald's

  • Burger King

  • Starbucks

  • The Bread Factory

  • Hale and Hearty

  • Chipotle

  • Potbelly

Dunkin' Donuts and Nathan's Hot Dogs also offer tap water. However, non-customers can't use it.

Which Restaurants Must Serve Free Water?

Although offering free water is optional, some places have to follow the norm.

The restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages must give free drinking water. Those who do not serve alcohol can choose to serve it or not. The rule works in many countries, such as America and England.

Free water is a must at alcohol bars



Some people share the same concern with you. We have received numerous questions related to free water at restaurants. Let’s discuss them a little bit.

1. Is McDonald's free of water?

Unless you are a customer, McDonald's has no responsibility to offer free water to you.

2. Is it illegal in the UK to refuse to provide free water?

There is no legal necessity in the UK for restaurants to give free tap water to their guests. Some bars and other establishments that serve alcohol have free tap water, but this is only in certain regions.

3. What is the average price of a cup of water?

You'll spend around $1,400 a year on bottled water if you drink eight cups a day. The same quantity of tap water would set you back approximately 49 cents.


Serving free water is optional. The restaurants have to consider all the essential factors before deciding whether to apply this rule. 

If the restaurant chooses the free water option, they should think about reducing the waste and enhancing the water quality. Tap water is a good idea. Guests will feel free to refill their cups with the desired quantity. 

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!

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